A few years back, I hiked the trail from Pelican Beach to the top of Eagle Bluff on Cypress Island, taking pictures every few minutes along the way. The resulting pictorial is a pretty good synopsis for those that can't make the journey themselves. See the Eagle Bluff Pictorial hike here. I decided to do the same thing on Matia, but with a little change up. First I hiked the trail snapping away with wild abandon, then I jumped in the dinghy and hugged the shore continuing taking pictures while I circled the island. Then I deleted most of what I had. The results are below, you decide if it was worthwhile.
|The blue marker on the far left marks Rolfe cove, and where we begin our visit to Matia
First off, exit the dock!
The little four boat float, may be full, but there are two buoys and room for a few boats to anchor. In a pinch you can anchor in the much larger cove at the other end of the island and do this hike/dinghy tour in reverse.
|Boater park fees are a great deal for what we get in return.
|The trail starts at the top of ramp beyond the small picnic campground area. Matia is unique in that fires are not allowed anywhere, and pets are restricted from trail system.
|The pocketed cliffs next to the restrooms are studded with shells and sea life fossils.
|Immediately the old and soon to be old growth woods swallows you, the boat is only minutes away, but is quickly forgotten.
|Bracket Fungus grows on dead trees
|The trail is remarkably wide, smooth, and mostly root free, making the walk a real pleasure. The tranquility will have you whispering to avoid disturbing the peace.
|Unlike other islands, Matia has very little storm damage, It may be just a matter of time.
|Our first peak of the large east cove is only 15-20 minutes into the hike.
|The un-welcome committee immediately snubbed us and paddled away.
|We returned the insult, and left them alone.
|One of the few side trails leads out to a viewpoint at the very end of the cove, a very worthwhile side trip, but today we turned right and kept on the loop trail.
|A short side trail leads to a small cove facing Orcas Island
|Later we bring the dinghy in here, but a big boat would be a mistake.
|It's an easy scramble down to the driftwood pile
|Matia, like all of the San Juans was logged in the early days, possibly to supply the kilns at Roche, but also to supply the growing area around Seattle.
|This freshwater swampy area beside the trail is just a short distance from the little cove making it a likely place for the hermit's cabin.
|We found several old apple trees beside the overgrown pond lending further support that this was near the location of the pioneer hermits home site.
|From Hermit Cove (my name) it is just five minutes over a small saddle and suddenly you get a surprise view of Rolfe cove and you are back.
|The sign says the trail is one mile, but seems less.
|The ramp out to the boats is built with the single piling method, and yes, it is wiggly giving you no confidence it will stay up, and yet, there it is.
|The beach at Rolfe Cove terminates into a sheer wall at both ends making beach combing limited.
|Other than a small current out at the dock the beach is dinghy friendly, we often see camp boats anchored and kayaks pulled up onto the driftwood. The campsites are directly above the beach.
|Lets head out the rickety ramp and jump in the dinghy for a circumnavigation and sea view of Matia.
|It's pretty close to high tide as we head out for a counterclockwise circle of the island.
|Right around the first point is a cute but smallish bay a couple boats can anchor in for some privacy, they even have their own beach. (This would be my second choice for "Hermit Cove" or when the little cove was too rough)
|Moving along, I notice the strata is turned on edge, I wonder which way is the original up. Is the oldest land to the left or the right?
|seeing the strata on edge helps me to understand the overhangs and eroded areas.
|This is what the Hermit saw as he rowed, I can imagine his cabin up in the trees, and his skiff pulled up on the beach. the fresh water pond is on the left side, The hiking trail is back in the trees about fifty feet.
|Moving on to the right, there is no place to land a dinghy, but an excellent snag for Eagles that roost on Matia
|Moving in close allows us to see some interesting formations
|Depth perception in this picture is misleading, but this is the other little cove seen earlier from land, see the sign on the hill?
This is the east point of the large east bay on Matia, and like most points, it continues underwater for quite a ways,
demanding a respectful approach whether in a dinghy or cruising boat.
|Here we are looking straight in the east bay, notice the marine mammals sprawled on awash rocks. The rocks are charted by the way. We stood at the head of the bay two hours earlier on our hike. A sailboat has moved in since we were on foot.
|Helpful locals mark the rocks for us as we enter the bay
|Once clear of the entrance rocks we can run extremely close to the perpendicular bank.
|And come across more residents
|You can just make out the trail we walked earlier, its the light area past the fir tree. The geese are nowhere to be seen.
|I keep reminding myself everything is turned about ninety degrees from how it was created.
|Continuing around inside the east bay, I am surprised how tolerant the birds are considering the snubbing we got from the geese earlier.
|As we are leaving the bay to continue our circumnavigation, I spot this outcrop and then circle back for a picture.
do you see a open jawed eel or a beaver with a tree on its back and a clawed foot? That's Lummi Island in the background.
|Outside the east cove we turn the corner on the North side to face the wrath of Georgia Strait, but Georgia is asleep, the lay of the land warns me to watch out for underwater shelves.
|The hull crunching shelves are just what seal pups need for Orca protection
|Soon we come to hundreds of moms and pups. We kept a healthy distance, but could tell that our presence made them nervous.
|Moving up the north side of Matia, there isn't a flat rock without an animal sprawled on it. Notice the low bank, you can walk right from the forest onto these shelves but there aren't any trails accessing this part of Matia.
|As the tide rises and lowers these shelves become hidden or exposed, its best to stay offshore a ways. There is nothing but bad news for boats and props in close.
|Before you know it we have made it all the way around Matia and are back at Rolfe Cove looking in the north entrance, but we decide to stay outside and explore the little passages lacing the barrier island that creates and protects the cove.
|From a distance I think there is no chance we can fit through this gap.
|I'm thankful the current isn't an issue, it looks like we will fit afterall.
|Then I see what lies beneath. No problem, but the oars got scuffed a little.